When I saw the question for this month, I felt an extreme bout of writer’s insecurity coming on. I’m not sure if I’m the best person to write about this. You see, I don’t have a great track record with figuring out when my work is done. Chalk it up to the lack of objectivity about my own work at times. And then I’ve often rushed.
Also, there’s picture perfect hindsight. I can look back at manuscripts I submitted and always see something that needs to be fixed. It’s just that I didn’t know it then.
I always sent what I thought was my best work at the time. It’s only now that I realize it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.
So, I guess the question isn’t for me, how do I know it’s ready, but how do I know I’ve done my best work?
Here are the clues I look for:
1. I don’t have any nagging doubts. I don’t know how else to describe it, but with some of my previous manuscripts, I’ve always had parts that I was insecure about. So with this book, when I didn’t have those doubts, I knew it was close.
2. I’ve crossed
3. Beta readers aren’t giving me big picture things to fix anymore. More than once I’ve had betas suggest I totally rewrite a manuscript, so I’m used to that kind of feedback. It’s when their notes are about minor stuff that I start to think it might be ready.
4. The story in my head made it to the page. I’ve learned recently the importance of this. I used to run in circles revising because I didn’t know what I was trying to achieve, and I was hoping someone else would tell me when my work was “good enough.” Now I figure out what my vision is and use others’ comments to gauge whether I achieved it. No one can tell you if you’re writing is good enough anyways. Darcy Pattison had a great post about this: http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/is-my-story-good-or-bad-wrong-question/
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who commented last month on finding time to write. Publishing my plan for writing and hearing from you was what I needed to keep accountable for September. I am now at 15,000 words on a brand new manuscript—and this is from generally writing about ½ hour a day from 500-1,000 words. Baby steps do work!
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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
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